At this yearâ€™s punk-themed Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, attendees made such a poor effort at dressing to the punk theme that we thought they should just make next yearâ€™s topic â€śPrettiness.â€ť Ashley joked that they could just theme it â€śOld Hollywood Glamour, but modern,â€ť and it looks like thatâ€™s exactly what theyâ€™ve decided to do. Except we canâ€™t snark about the 2014 Met Gala theme, because the exhibit isÂ Charles James: Beyond Fashion.
That sound you just heard was 1,000 fashion nerds squealing.
Charles Freaking James (1906-1978) was Americaâ€™s first couturier. His glamorous, mid-century couture involved feats of structural engineering so unique that when the Chicago History Museum devoted an exhibit to his work a couple years ago, they put some of his dresses in an MRI machine to see how they were put together. The Chicago exhibit also reproduced several gowns so visitors could touch them and look inside the dresses.
“The genius is on the inside,” said curator Timothy Long. “If you canâ€™t see it, then you wonâ€™t understand what it is.â€ť
Marisa Tomei wore vintage Charles James to the 2011 Academy Awards, and Tim Gunn looked like he wanted to wrap her in a tablecloth to make sure she didnâ€™t spill anything on it.
â€śHe really is a one-of-a-kind designer,â€ť said Harold Koda, curator in charge of theÂ Costume Institute, to WWD. â€śEven if you look through the history of French hauteÂ coutureÂ and all the English coutureÂ designers, James stands out as a very idiosyncratic personality and artist and one of the few designers who, in his own lifetime, felt that his work transcended the medium.â€ť
Koda hints that this is the first time since the 90s that the Costume Institute will be exhibiting in an open space wired for the latest technology. Personally, Iâ€™m really hoping to see some more of that MRI action. (For other fashion construction nerds, the Met has some of Jamesâ€™ patterns and construction diagrams on its website.)
Admittedly, focusing the exhibit on mid-century couture gives all the red carpet regulars another opportunity to trot out their tired Old Hollywood looks for the gala. But since itâ€™s Charles James hopefully weâ€™ll see more drama, structure, and color than appears on your average red carpet these days.
Aerin Lauder is the eventâ€™s chairwoman, and sheâ€™ll be hosting with cochairs Oscar de la Renta, Sarah Jessica Parker, Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch, Anna Wintour, and Bradley Cooper. (Weâ€™re not really sure what Bradley Cooper is doing there, but OK.)
Via WWD/Image: WENN